I'm not in the market for an Audi R8. I really wish I had enough cash to make like Robert Downey Jr in Iron Man every time I pop down to Spinneys but, for now, I drive a car made in Japan rather than Germany. Still, it was lovely to pretend I had a blank cheque to spend at Abu Dhabi's Ali & Sons Audi showroom on my very own Audi R8. The showroom is equipped with Dubai-developed design software to make it easy to customise your Audi inside and out. At present, the configurators have been rolled out across dealerships in the Middle East and the plan is to incorporate them into every Audi showroom worldwide.
Anyone who can use a computer can use the configurator. There is a keyboard, mouse and a large, flatscreen TV on which you can see your design come to life. I started my dream R8 design process sensibly. In my head, I had just been promoted, I was on a lovely salary and I wanted an R8 that looked sexy and sporty yet still appropriate for a career woman. But I still wanted to stand out from the herd just a little bit. For the exterior colour, I scrolled past the obvious shades of black, white, silver and red and waited for something to hit me between the eyes. Mystic Blue Mica did just that - a rich, indigo-blue that would look great under a bright Abu Dhabi sky.
Carbon for the wing mirrors and side-blades added subtle menace and twin-spoke aluminium wheels looked sporty without being silly. But the truth is that if you're driving an R8, you will get buffoons trying to drag you off at every set of lights, even if you choose the plainest wheels. Inside, I chose a soothing symphony of cool blue and greys for the leather interior - Light Jet Grey, Palace Blue and Light Palace Blue, to be precise. The configurator allows you to customise right down to the stitching and piping around the floor mats. I felt black mats with silver piping would be stylish as well as practical given my propensity for spilling coffee in the car. A Light Palace Blue leather steering wheel, silver leather gear shifter, handbrake and headlining, and carbon inlays on centre console completed my sensible R8. Now I had the hang of the software, I was ready to design something that would truly draw attention on the Corniche.
I decided the fantasy ride had to be orange. My first close encounter with an orange sports car came in 2007 when I had the rare privilege of driving an orange Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera on the Losail track in Qatar. It sounds hideous but it was truly magnificent. The distinct orange and blue livery of the Gulf Oil-sponsored John Wyer Automotive racing team of the 1960s was my other inspiration.
With that in mind, Solar Orange was the clear choice for the body with Blue Pearl for the wing mirrors and sideblades. Dark titanium wheels pack a more aggressive punch than the ladylike aluminium on my first design, challenging other cars to try and take me on. By this stage, the blood was rushing to my head and I went orange-mad on the interior with the excellently named Signal Orange leather for the steering wheel, headlining, handbrake and gear shifter. It did look a bit like a can of pumpkin soup had exploded in the car so I tempered it a little with Alabaster White leather contrasting on the seats, centre console and completely impractical Alabaster White carpet. If I ever owned this car, I would be guaranteed to splatter it with coffee in a matter of moments. A few hints of carbon on the inlays courtesy of a few clicks of the mouse and my Gulf Oil-inspired R8 was complete and looked marvellous in my virtual garage alongside the more cultivated dark blue number.
But what about the price tag for my mini fleet? The blue, executive lady R8 is priced at Dh687,510 while my radical racer is a mere Dh681,328. It seems that being practical doesn't always pay. email@example.com